Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Be The Difference

Everyday people all around the world buy clothing, coffee, chocolate, as well as other items that have been processed by people who have been forced into modern day slavery or more commonly known as human trafficking.  David Batstone, who is the President and Co-Founder of the Not For Sale Campaign stated, “The shoes I wear, the coffee I drink, the sugar I put in my coffee may all be invisible links to slavery. Being free to choose our destiny is fundamental to how we see ourselves. That’s why human trafficking strikes a nerve, and people want to help.” 

Batstone sums up the fact that human trafficking is consistently taking place all around us whether we recognize it or not.  Recently, I had the privilege of traveling to San Francisco, California to attend the Abolitionist Academy with the Not For Sale Campaign and become a certified abolitionist. This Academy was devoted to teaching others how to educate individuals about the global, national, state, and local problem of human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Information was also provided on how to assist survivors and what tools you can use in your everyday lives to help “set the captives free.” It truly was an incredible experience and I feel so blessed to have gotten to attend this academy, what an amazing opportunity!

One of the things I learned at the Academy was the realization that not enough people know about human trafficking let alone what they should do if they suspect it is happening. I want to share how any individual person can be the difference when it comes to modern day slavery.

For starters you can prevent human trafficking by keeping communication open among the community in which you are living in.  Being attentive to problems that may be happening in your hometown and neighborhood.   If you have children, teach them about personal safety and to not get involved with strangers.   If you do suspect a problem contact the legal authorities.
 
If you or loved ones are traveling outside of the U.S., be sure to research where you are going and what organizations you are with.  Above all, never give anyone your passport or other important travel documents (acf.hhs.gov).   

When identifying a victim, evidentiary signs that an individual has been trafficked include the following: inability to move or leave a job, bruises or other signs of battering, fear or depression, not speaking the language of the State, recently arrived in the State from another part of the world or the country, or lack of passport, immigration or identification documentation. It is important to remember that anybody can be a victim, it does not matter whether a person is wealthy or poor, male or female anybody can become a victim of human trafficking. Once a victim has been identified there are many different ways to take action.  At the first sign of the possibility of human trafficking, the authorities should be contacted.  Inside the U.S., one can contact the local police, the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Outside of our country, you can contact the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate (acf.hhs.gov).

Regardless of location, any person can report a case of human trafficking or get more information by calling the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline, which is operated by the Polaris Project, at 1-888-3737-888 (polarisproject.org).  These are just a few different ways that people can become more aware of human trafficking by identifying victims as well as protecting themselves.  The Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution passed in 1865 stated: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude…shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction” (notforsalecampaign.org). It is up to individual people to step up to the plate and recognize that human trafficking is a serious issue and it is time to make change and be the difference.  




Yours truly,

Stacy Schaffer
Miss ND International 2011
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